Paul Brill

New Pagan Love Song (Scarlet Shame)

At first vaguely reminiscent of Duncan Sheik and Ben Folds, Paul Brill shakes off such god-awful comparisons and blissfully heads into Sparklehorse, Robyn Hitchcock and even Aphex Twin territory on New Pagan Love Song, a beautiful set of strikingly unpopular-sounding pop. Odd plunking of banjo and double bass collide with delicate piano refrains, and just when you think it's all going to get too self-absorbed and sappy, Brill's off-kilter tenor and weary worldview bring it all back into semi-focus. Incredibly glum in a romantic sort of way, this New York native creates ambient pop for quixotic losers. In this context, even the Doors' "Indian Summer" comes off as something to recommend. Even better is the opener, "Trindade," in which Brill laments, "I don't need memories 'cause memories are lies/And I can't remember most things except falling down/and waiting in line." Far-reaching and not a little bit depressive, these love songs are not exactly pagan, but they are refreshingly new.

 
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